Do we really have silver bullet for feral hog control?

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Many of you may have heard that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Department of Agriculture just approved a new Warfarin-based product for control of feral hogs. If “Warfarin” sounds familiar, it’s because it is a common poison used for rodent control and has been around for many years in that market. So, back to my question: “Do We Finally Have the Silver Bullet for Feral Hog Control?”

The jury is still out. Let me start off by quoting the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service official statement: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension is a state-wide leader in educating the public on effective methods of controlling the population of feral hogs. As Kaput only recently received approval from the EPA and TDA, AgriLife Extension has not yet incorporated the use of this product into our educational programing. We are exploring the benefits and risks associated with warfarin-based products such as Kaput and expect to eventually add this control method to the assortment of management options we educate landowners about, including trapping, shooting, land management, and other population reduction methods.

You may have seen statements to the fact that Extension supports the use of this product as a feral hog toxicant. A more accurate statement is that Extension supports that if the product IS going to be used, it should only be available as a Restrict Use product. That means a landowner must possess a TDA Pesticide Applicator’s License. That is worth noting because the EPA cleared the product with no restrictions.

This very well could be the control method we’ve been waiting for, so why are we not jumping on board so quickly? The bottom line is we have many unanswered questions. So let’s talk about what we know.

Warfarin is a blood anticoagulant, used as a blood thinner, even in humans. It has also been used for rodent control since the 1950’s. It has been used as a pig toxicant in other countries including Australia. Warfarin works by preventing the recycling of Vitamin K in the liver which reduces blood clotting and the animal dies from internal bleeding once it has received a lethal dose.

The toxicant must be dispensed using a specific feeder designed to limit non-target specie access. The hogs are trained to this feeder by using a lure that attracts the hogs to the bait station before the feeder is loaded with the actual toxicant. Multiple doses of the bait must be consumed over an extended period of time because the levels of warfarin in the product are low. To address the instance of a pig consuming a less than lethal dose and then being shot or trapped and then processed for human consumption, It is supposed to contain a dye that will turn the fatty tissue of the pig blue so that anyone who attempts to process an animal for consumption will know that the pig has consumed warfarin.

When used as a rodenticide, users must locate and remove rodents that have been killed so that non-target scavengers are not affected. The same goes for hogs. Deceased hogs must be located and buried at least 18 inches below ground.

According to label directions, all livestock must be excluded from grazing in baited areas for at least 90 days after the toxicant has been removed and specific signage must be posted where the toxicant is being utilized.

Here’s the bottom line: Extension has always been able to hang its hat on the fact that we provide unbiased, researched-based information to our fellow citizens. However, the research we rely on to answer the questions that our clientele have is scarce at the moment; if it exists, we have not seen it….yet. But, this product is (or will be) out there and has been approved on the state and federal levels. So, it is certainly an option for any land owner who chooses to use it.

Research has been conducted for years using sodium nitrite and other products as a hog toxicant and that research willa continue, hopefully resulting in more options for feral hog control.

There is a reason new products take years to hit the market, and that is because research takes time and we generally hear about products coming down the pipe for a couple years before they are actually released; with this particular product it was a week or two. That is because instead of introducing a new product from scratch, the Warfarin product was already on the market and just required a label for a new use; a much shorter path to the market.

This may very well be the product we’ve been waiting for. Once it is released in mid-May, we’ll be much closer to finding out.

Extension does not endorse any particular product, but if you would like more information on the product, including the product label, I would encourage you to visit their website: http://www.kaputproducts.com/solutions-by-pest-type/feral-hog/

The Rusk County Extension Office will be hosting a program on April 4th where we will discuss the product and its lawful use. Information on that program is included in the Spring Rusk County Extension Ag Newsletter or you can contact the Rusk County Extension Office at 903-657-0376.

The members of Texas A&M AgriLife will provide equal opportunities in programs and activities, education, and employment to all persons regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity and will strive to achieve full and equal employment opportunity throughout Texas A&M AgriLife.

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